celebrities, disasters, music, obits, YouTube

Hana Horka bets and loses on deliberately catching COVID-19…

Yesterday, I wrote that I’m really tired of reading and hearing about COVID-19, and all of the preaching related to the virus. That’s still a true statement. However, this morning I read a very sad news story about Hana Horka, a woman from the Czech Republic who deliberately exposed herself to COVID-19. Why? Because like Germany, the Czech Republic is making life harder for the unvaccinated by denying them entry to restaurants, theaters, saunas, and the like. Unfortunately, her decision cost her dearly. Instead of heading for the nearest spa, newly recovered from COVID-19, this woman– only 57 years old when she died– is headed to the Great Beyond– whatever that is.

The story goes that Hana Horka, who was a member of famed Czech band Asonance, was against being vaccinated. Her son, Jan Rek, said that it wasn’t because she believed in any ridiculous conspiracy theories. She didn’t think, for instance, that anyone getting a vaccine was going to be implanted with microchips or have their DNA changed in some way. Rather, Rek says that his mother simply preferred to get COVID and have “natural immunity” to the virus instead of getting a vaccine.

According to Rek, over the Christmas holidays, he and his father, who are both fully vaccinated, both tested positive for COVID-19. Horka determined that this would be her chance to finally contract COVID-19 and qualify for a health pass. So, instead of isolating herself and avoiding her sick family members, Hana Horka deliberately exposed herself to COVID. She looked forward to getting the virus and eventually recovering, which would allow her the ability to, once again, access fun venues that are denied to unvaccinated people in many parts of Europe. Having recovered from the virus, Horka would also have been allowed to perform with Asonance without having to be vaccinated.

At first, it looked like her plan had worked. Two days before she died, Horka posted on social media, “I survived… It was intense. Now there will be theatre, sauna, a concert… and an urgent trip to the sea”. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

On the morning of her untimely death, Horka was feeling better. She got dressed to take a walk. But then her back started to hurt, so she went to her bedroom for a rest. Ten minutes later, she was dead, having choked to death.

I obviously don’t know what happened to cause Horka’s sudden demise, but I have read that COVID can cause blood clots. Perhaps she had a pulmonary embolism, which I know can and does kill people very suddenly. But her son mentions choking, which doesn’t sound like the same thing. Anyway, it’s a very sad loss, especially for her family members and friends, but also for anyone who enjoyed her talents. Asonance is the oldest folk band in the Czech Republic. I have no doubt that Horka’s music was beloved by many of her fellow Czechs as well as others around the world.

Hana Horka at work with her band. The music is over for her, now. I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat listening to this.

Horka’s son, Jan Rek, says that he blames the many “anti-vax” groups across Europe who have been protesting vaccine mandates. Approximately 63 percent of the population in the Czech Republic are fully vaccinated. Many of those who aren’t vaccinated have been protesting and rebelling against the government’s new restrictions. There are also reports of anti-vax groups holding “COVID parties”, in much the same way people in the 1970s deliberately exposed children to chicken pox. People who can prove that they have recovered from COVID-19 don’t have to be vaccinated, and they aren’t subjected to the restrictions that punish those who refuse to comply with vaccine mandates.

Rek says the anti-vax groups have “blood on their hands.” According to the Daily Beast, Rek also added:

“I know exactly who influenced her… It makes me sad that she believed strangers more than her proper family… It wasn’t just total disinformation but also views on natural immunity and antibodies acquired through infection.”

Rek said that it was pointless to discuss the merits of getting the vaccine with his mom because the discussion would very quickly become “emotional”. I heard similar comments about one of my unvaccinated sisters from my own mom, who had expressed concern to me that she refused the shots. Mom told me that she couldn’t talk to my sister about her worries, because my sister would very quickly get upset with her. Rek says that now he’s telling his mother’s story, hoping that might persuade some people to get vaccinated. It occurs to me that my sister, who has spent too much time in North Carolina, has a habit of saying “Holy Hannah!” as an exclamation. I can’t help but realize the next time I hear her say that, I’ll probably think of “Holy Hana…” in honor of this singer, who may very well literally be holy now.

I know that yesterday, I complained about the pandemic preaching and lectures on social media. I still do find that an annoying practice. However, I think sharing stories like this one is a valuable practice. The main difference is, like anyone else who has had direct experience with COVID, Hana Horka was a living, breathing, singing person who made real and measurable differences in people’s lives. In Hana’s case, it was obviously with her music, but I know there were other gifts she had that other people enjoyed. She made an unfortunate choice, that ultimately led to her destruction. Her story isn’t a “stale” meme, and it’s not been passed around social media like a plate of microwaved hors d’oeuvres at a party. This is real news, and unfortunately, Hana Horka is just one more face to add to the tragic tapestry of COVID-19 deaths.

Look at how much Hana Horka loved to perform. I wish I had discovered this band in a different way… not because a member died of COVID, but because they make beautiful music.
I think it’s profoundly sad that Hana can no longer sing with her band, all because of a tiny, destructive, deadly virus.

So, as much as I am sick and tired of face mask preaching social media posts, COVID-19 lectures, and arguments among friends and family, I do appreciate stories about real people who made choices, and how those choices worked out for them in the end. I do pay attention to their stories and I don’t laud their deaths. Listening to the videos above, I know that Hana Horka’s death is a real loss to many people. I wish she had chosen differently, and I hope her story informs those who need to know about it. But obviously, people are going to do what they’re going to do, and they’re going to believe what they’re going to believe.

My heart goes out to Horka’s family… especially her son, who obviously grieves for her. I’m sure it’s especially heartbreaking for him to know that his mother got the virus from him and his father. He probably lives with an especially hellish form of survivor’s guilt over that. I wish peace and comfort for them all.

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disasters, Duggars, Reality TV, transportation, YouTube

Jim Bob’s auditions, Derick’s defection, Josh in prison, and the world’s oldest profession…

Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed, watching some of the old episodes of the Duggars’ reality show that have been recently posted on YouTube. They’ve brought back a lot of repressed memories. I did used to watch the show, back in the days before we knew the truth about Josh Duggar. Even before I knew about the Duggar family, I found super large families interesting. It’s probably because of my dad’s experiences growing up in a big family. My dad and his siblings always seemed very close-knit and loving, even if my experiences as my dad’s daughter seemed to be less like that.

My dad was one of nine children, and I always thought that was a huge family. By today’s standards, it is a huge family. But my dad’s family still had fewer than half of the kids in the Duggar family. In fact, compared to the Duggars, my dad’s family almost looks petite.

Back when their reality show premiered, I thought the Duggars were fascinating. Most of the kids were cute and precocious. Even Josh, back in the day, seemed benign in his brightly colored polo shirts and khaki pants, with his neatly cut hair. It wasn’t until the specials turned into a show that I realized how smug and glib Josh appeared to be. But then there was Jim Bob… and Jim Bob frequently came off like a blockhead– a heavily shellacked blockhead. Sometimes he said things that made it sound like he’d been inhaling too much hairspray, or something. But then, after watching the Duggars for awhile, I realized that Jim Bob is quite narcissistic and uses people, especially his family. For years, he’s used his own children as a source of power and money.

Yesterday, I watched the Duggars, then listened to a couple of YouTubers opine about them and their family. One v-logger, in particular, highlighted Jim Bob’s lengthy application/questionnaire that he handed out to his daughters’ suitors. The v-logger commented that the questionnaire seemed almost akin to an audition. The young men who came a’courtin’, had to explain their religious beliefs, and describe how they planned to support the Duggar daughters.

An interesting video by kyeluh about Jill, and her upbringing in a cult.

It dawned on me that Jim Bob was holding auditions, to keep the gravy train rolling. It mattered less if the potential suitor was a good match and had things in common and basic chemistry with his daughters. He was looking for guys who were reasonably attractive, loyal, hard working, and, above all, malleable, and willing to submit to Jim Bob’s authority. So far, it doesn’t look like Boob is the best judge of character, even with that lengthy audition/questionnaire he makes his potential sons-in-law fill out for him. Ben Seewald seems to be the only one who stays totally loyal to Boob, besides Boob’s own sons. The other sons-in-law mostly seem interested in actually being the “headship”, rather than allowing Boob to stay in that role.

Then I thought about how Jim Bob had basically “prostituted” his children to TLC, using a contract in which he collected all of the money from the episodes of the Duggar series and specials, supposedly to dole out the money to the participants. However, Jill Dillard and her husband, Derick, later sued Jim Bob so they could get paid for their participation on Counting On. It’s been widely reported that Jill was basically paid minimum wage, and the cost for pursuing that money, as well as being allowed to live life on her own terms, was being ostracized from her family.

I remember when I first saw Derick Dillard. I thought he seemed reasonably intelligent. I even kind of liked him. He did, at the very least, seem to really love Jill, anyway, and God knows she needed someone to show her some authentic love. Then later, Derick was criticized for making transphobic comments about fellow TLC reality star, Jazz Jennings. It got to the point at which he was no longer on Counting On. At first, I thought TLC gave him the ax because of all of those transphobic comments he made about Jazz Jennings, and the backlash resulting from them. Later, I read that he and Jill had decided to leave the show, because they weren’t getting paid, and because they didn’t enjoy having their personal lives plastered all over a reality show solely for Jim Bob’s profit.

I also realized, sad as it is, that a lot of Americans probably have feelings that are similar to Derick Dillard’s when it comes to issues regarding the LGBTQ community. While I disagree with Derick’s opinions regarding that community, I can also understand why he still has a voice. It’s because many people agree with him, but aren’t saying so out loud. They don’t want to be lectured or canceled. It’s sort of the same reason why Donald Trump is popular, in spite of being an obvious and major narcissistic dickhead.

It would be nice if every person’s controversial and problematic views evolved at the same time, but that’s not reality. The truth is, it takes time to change public sentiment. That’s why we still have issues with racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. Loftily telling someone to “educate themselves”, when they have an opinion that isn’t politically correct, isn’t likely to end with positive results. People don’t like to be told what to do or how to think or what their opinions should be, even if more progressive people have come to different conclusions. Telling them that they have to change their views is going to result in a lot of defiance, and championing of those who are bolder about expressing their opinions.

So, instead of disliking Derick Dillard simply because he made those offensive, transphobic comments, which are right in line with his conservative Christian beliefs, I choose to look at him in a more positive light. I don’t agree with his ignorant comments about people who aren’t heterosexual, but I like that he encourages Jill to live a less constrained life. I like that he seems to love her very much. I love that he took on Jim Bob, and doesn’t let Jim Bob run his or Jill’s lives. I love that Jill does more of what she wants, and their sons go to public school, where they are exposed to people who aren’t just like them. I love that Derick insisted on being paid for the work that he and Jill did.

Jim Bob acts like a pimp, and his wife and children, and now his grandchildren, are pressed into service to make money for him, just as if they were prostitutes for TLC. I’m glad Derick stopped allowing Jim Bob to prostitute him and Jill, using them for his personal gain. While some people may not like that I use the terms “pimp” and “prostitute” to describe Jim Bob and his family, if you look up the definition for “prostitute”, you will find that it’s not always a word that’s used for sex workers. It’s also used for people who surrender their self-respect and misuse their talents for personal gain. A pimp is a “go-between”– a “purveyor” of services rendered, especially if they’re sexual. But, if you think about it, Jim Bob kind of does sell off his offspring, if not for reality entertainment value, then for their abilities to reproduce and make more bodies who can be raised to think the way he does.

The Duggars, and the people who have married into that family, are all conservative Christians. Most of them hail from the southern United States, which is Bible Belt territory. I think it’s unrealistic to expect most of them to change their beliefs about homosexuality and transgendered people on a dime. It would be nice if they could instantly join us in the 21st century and stop being homophobic and transphobic, but that isn’t reality. While I think their show should have been canceled ages ago, I also think the fact that it wasn’t is a sign that a lot of Americans are, deep down, more like them than they’d like to admit, political correctness be damned.

Maybe it’s not necessarily a bad thing that the Duggars had a reality show for so long. If anything, the show and the incredible fall from grace the Duggars are experiencing, shines a light on the very disturbing and destructive IBLP and ATI cult formed by Bill Gothard. If not for the Duggars, would most of us even know about Bill Gothard? I don’t think I would. Maybe I would have eventually gotten around to reading a book about fundies, but it takes more time and effort to read a book than watching a TV show.

Personally, I think it’s better to try to understand the Duggars where they are, and realize that for now, they are homophobic and transphobic, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. We have to work with what we have. They aren’t going to change their beliefs simply because I tell them they need to educate themselves. They have to want to change. And right now, they have bigger fish to fry, as eldest son Josh awaits his sentencing and trip to federal prison. Speaking of which…

Lately I’ve also been watching videos made by former prisoners. I’ve been watching Jessica Kent, who served time in New York and Arkansas, for some time, but I’ve also watched a few videos by Christina Randall, a winsome YouTuber from Florida who did time in prison there. Recently, I saw her video about what it’s like to be transferred to prison, and how terrible an experience that was. I think Josh has some terrible days ahead of him, but at least he won’t be pregnant when he goes to prison.

This is actually a pretty harrowing video. Being transported to prison sounds pretty hellish.
Jessica’s experience. She was pregnant when she went on that horrible five hour drive to prison.

I don’t have any pity for Josh. I don’t think he is someone who should ever be on the outside, mainly because people like him can’t be rehabilitated without extreme measures. Basically, he’d probably need to be castrated to have any hope of quelling his deviant desires. We know that’s not going to happen. He poses a danger to the world’s most innocent and fragile people. But even though I don’t pity him, I also know that he’s going to be in for a rough time. And I know that in spite of how I feel about his family– especially his father– there are people in that family who love him in spite of what he’s done. So I have some compassion for them, and basic compassion for Josh, because he is still a human being who has done really terrible, monstrous things.

Josh is not ever going to be trustworthy, especially around children. And it is sad for his SEVEN children than their father is a sexual deviant who is going to prison. Although it would probably be sadder for them if he had been acquitted, and allowed to raise them, since it’s likely that they were victimized by him. The sad fact is, people who look at what he was looking at usually have to produce it themselves, in order to be trusted in that sick community. I would be surprised if Anna doesn’t get investigated, too.

Of course, not everyone in the Duggar family is guilty, and they shouldn’t all have to pay for Josh’s mistakes, or the fact that the patriarch trotted them out on reality TV so he could make a fast buck. They can’t help being who they are, or how they were raised… and even if the world is telling them they should be different, it’s a scary proposition to reject one’s family and upbringing, and the ideals that they learned during their formative years. I have hope that some of them will break away and have the courage to live life on their own terms, rather than being Boob’s enslaved prostitutes for publicity.

Anyway… this whole fiasco has been an epic shitshow. It’s really something to watch the oldest episodes of the Duggars’ reality show and see just how deceptive they were, and how much “actual reality” was being obscured by “reality TV”. It’s always sad when someone’s image is significantly less than the reality of who they really are becomes obvious. But I do take heart when I see glimmers of hope and light, and I do see those when I see Derick Dillard take on Jim Bob and Josh. No, he’s not perfect, and I certainly don’t agree with his homophobic or transphobic opinions, or his conservative political views. But I think it’s a beautiful thing that he supports his wife in her recovery, and doesn’t let Jim Bob whore him out to the highest bidder. That’s got to count for something.

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bad TV, disasters, Duggars, narcissists, politicians, politics, poor judgment

Jim Bob Duggar makes another run at state politics… this could get entertaining fast!

The featured photo is being posted on the Duggar’s Facebook post about this event… I think it could quickly turn into a shitshow.

It’s another foggy morning in Croatia. I’ve just learned the latest hot Duggar news. In the wake of the scandals that have plagued his famous family ever since it came out what a sex pest eldest son Josh is, Boob has decided to run for public office. Below is the “exciting announcement” that appeared on the official Duggar Facebook page…

What could be prompting Jim Bob to run for Arkansas State Senate District 7 at this time? In about a month, his son, Josh, will be put on trial for possession of child pornography. Josh could go to prison for a very long time. Jim Bob knew about Josh’s problems, which became apparent over 19 years ago. His solution for dealing with Josh’s obvious problems was to shave the lad’s head and send him off to do pointless physical labor for a friend. As we can see, Josh’s time doing hard labor did nothing to curb his perverted appetites. And now, the father of seven is likely to lose his freedom.

Given all of that… NOW Jim Bob thinks he should run for office? Is he doing this to take attention away from Josh? Boob does have some rather self-centered proclivities. He would probably enjoy the spotlight, since the Duggars aren’t on reality TV anymore. And I’m sure there’s money involved… and definitely power. But does he really think that this won’t be a total shitshow? And why can’t he just enjoy what he has?

Years ago, on my old blog, I wrote a post about the Duggar family that was called “Why don’t you eat what you’ve got?” I titled it as a nod to my mom, who used to say that and give me a look of disgust when I wanted more food and hadn’t enjoyed what was already on my plate. I compared my mom’s irritation and disgust to the irritation and disgust I experienced when I saw the Duggars announcing another pregnancy and reminding everyone about how God kept “gifting” them with more children. I found that sentiment extremely insensitive and narcissistic, especially since so many people who want to be parents can’t be due to situations beyond their control.

Not long after I wrote that post– I think it was written after the news came out about Michelle’s pregnancy with Jubilee Shalom– the Duggars announced that Michelle had miscarried. One of my friends, then a Duggar fan, got upset with me because she thought I was making fun of the Duggars after their loss. I wasn’t making fun of them. I don’t wish miscarriages on anyone. But I do think that when you have many children under 18, and you almost died during your last pregnancy, and your last baby was born extremely prematurely and almost died, you might want to consider whether or not you need to keep accepting God’s “gifts”. And I wondered why Jim Bob and Michelle couldn’t simply enjoy what they had? Why did they need more?

Well… I think we know why they need more. Jim Bob Duggar, like Donald Trump, and all the other power and money hungry men who want to control women, craves fame and power… and money, of course. They can’t simply enjoy what they have. They have to keep going for more. And it doesn’t matter that the family has been disgraced by a son with obvious sexual perversions who is about to go on trial. It doesn’t matter if the adult children in the family never got paid for being on the reality show and one of them had to sue to get minimum wages for her part on the show. It doesn’t matter that there are still children under 18 in the house who need their parents… but their parents have abdicated that responsibility to the older siblings. And it doesn’t matter that conservative politics are literally killing people.

Jim Bob says he’s “pro-life”. Then he says he’s “pro-gun”, which means that he cares more about his guns than the already born babies and people who died due to gun violence. He doesn’t want to force his constituents to get the COVID-19 vaccine, because “people should be able to make that choice for themselves”. But he has no empathy for a young girl who has been the unwilling recipient of a rapist’s sperm and winds up pregnant… He has no thought for the young girl who was raped by her big brother or uncle or grandfather and gets pregnant. Pregnancy isn’t contagious. COVID-19 is, and it doesn’t discriminate.

But even without all of that… I just think it’s crazy for Boob to re-launch a political career now, when he’s eldest son is about to be tried by the feds. I know he’s not Josh, but it does seem to be an extremely tone deaf thing to be doing. But then, I’ve come to expect that from the tone deaf Duggars. One only has to listen to Josh sing “The Loyalty Song” to his wife, Anna, at their wedding and then look at recent history to see that.

Ugh… just dreadful! I know some of his sisters play piano well, but they’re still tone deaf.

Well… we’ll see how this goes. I’m sure some people will vote for him, just like some people will vote for Donald Trump again. I just think this is proof positive that Jim Bob Duggar only cares about himself. It’s pathetic and embarrassing, and I think this could be a decision that he ultimately regrets. But he’ll never show it to the masses… because that would entail showing people that he has a soul and empathy and the slightest scintilla of shame. He’s been in the public eye for a long time now, and I have yet to see any evidence that he has any of those qualities.

The Duggars are like an unusually virulent case of herpes… and they just keep erupting at the most embarrassing and inconvenient times…

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business, disasters, religion

I just watched LuLaRich on Amazon Prime… what a nutroll!

Just a few days ago, I wrote a post about a YouTube channel I discovered last week. The creator, Josie, of NOTTHEGOODGIRL, does videos on the evils of multi-level marketing schemes. She’s interviewed people who got heavily involved in businesses like LuLaRoe, Mary Kay, Amway, and others. In the course of researching for that post, I learned about “LuLaRich”, a new four part docuseries on Amazon Prime.

I don’t often watch shows on Amazon.com, mainly because I have to use a VPN to see any programming in English that was not produced by Amazon. Because I live in Europe, I get European content via Amazon.de, and my German still sucks. But it was possible to binge watch “LuLaRich” on Amazon.de, so that’s what I did yesterday after my housewife duties were done.

I was somewhat prepared for the crazy. A few years ago, I wrote a couple of posts about LuLaRoe and some of the craziness I discovered by reading about it. At that time, LuLaRoe was merely controversial. I had several Facebook friends who were peddling the brand’s leggings and maxi skirts. They would add me to their groups, which I would promptly ignore.

Prior to the research I did for my blog, I never paid much attention to LuLaRoe for several reasons. First off, I don’t like MLMs, so I would never buy anything from anyone selling products through that business model. I don’t care how “buttery soft” the leggings are. Secondly, I don’t wear leggings or maxi skirts, nor do I like loud prints. From what I’ve seen, LuLaRoe’s stuff is mostly loud prints, leggings, and maxi skirts. And thirdly, I don’t knowingly support cults. LuLaRoe is a very culty company, with heavy LDS overtones. Nothing personal against people who are LDS… I’ve just seen the damage the church does to people, to include my husband.

The trailer for LuLaRich.

Not that I don’t find cults fascinating, of course. The “culty” aspect of LuLaRoe, exposed by “LuLaRich”, is what makes the docuseries so compelling. The series was directed and produced by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, and they’ve done a great job getting the scoop about how LuLaRoe rose so fast, and then fell apart. I would say the main issue behind LuLaRoe’s mighty fall from grace has much to do with greed, but also nepotism and incompetence. It’s pretty clear that Deanne and Mark Stidham got way in over their heads on some aspects of running a huge business. And that incompetence and greed has led to many lawsuits.

I really enjoyed most of the people who were interviewed for this series. The creators interviewed former LuLaRoe stars who made five figures a month. One lady bought two Chevy Tahoes, which were later repossessed after LuLaRoe changed their bonus structure. One month, a “consultant” made over $3000 in bonuses. The next month, after the restructuring, she made $800. That huge drop in income, especially after someone has bought big ticket items like cars or houses or run up a $10,000 credit card bill for dinner, can be devastating to a person’s finances. One woman sold breast milk so she could get into the LuLaRoe business.

Another trailer…

Also consider that many of the people who were selling LuLaRoe were moms who wanted to stay at home with their kids. Just to start in the business, those moms, many of whom had no money, had to pony up at least $5000. I’m not saying that some of the women didn’t make money. When LuLaRoe was hot, the products were selling themselves. But then the bubble burst, and many women were stuck with items they couldn’t sell… or defective items. And LuLaRoe broke promises, too. Consultants were told they could return their merchandise and get a refund. But that policy was also broken, leaving a lot of consultants in the lurch.

Another trailer…

Some of the other people who were interviewed for this series were employees. One office worker who wore Chanel to work was chastised by Deanne Stidham for not wearing LuLaRoe. This same worker, who is Black, later became a consultant and turned down a cruise because she didn’t want to be stuck out in the middle of the ocean with a bunch of White women. Another employee, a guy who worked in customer service, hilariously spoke of a Chipotle catered event that was catered by the Stidhams. He said he and some of the other employees referred to it as “Chip-poo-poo” for reasons he didn’t want to discuss on camera. Then he talked about some of the heartwrenching issues he had to deal with when consultants would email or call in a panic. He realized very quickly that many of the higher-ups didn’t know what they were doing.

And, of course, there’s also that Mormon connection. I don’t think LuLaRoe is officially affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Mark Stidham is said to spout off passages from the Book of Mormon during LuLaRoe events. While a lot of consultants may have been LDS, not everyone was. Imagine how weird it was for the non-Mormons to hear Mark Stidham compare himself to Joseph Smith, claiming he’s being “persecuted”. It must have been very bizarre for them.

In spite of my comments so far, I didn’t come away with totally negative impressions of LuLaRoe. I do admire Deanne Stidham for having the courage to build a business. I don’t think she necessarily got started with the notion to rip off thousands of women. She was a go getter who needed money, and as you can see in the series, she’s a very extraverted, enthusiastic, energetic person. I got the sense that she really did want to help women on some level, at least at first. I think later on, she became greedy.

I was much less impressed by Deanne’s husband, Mark, who came off as toxic and controlling. Deanne just had energy and enthusiasm– she’s a natural at sales. Perhaps if she and Mark had brought in people who were very experienced from the get go, and they weren’t so fixated on sudden wealth, the outcome would have been different. Maybe there wouldn’t have been so many people suddenly getting rich, but they also wouldn’t have had this colossal fall from grace.

Wooo!

Anyway… I was mostly dimly aware of LuLaRoe when it was the latest thing. The company started in 2012, but I think I became aware of it in maybe 2015 or 2016. It was never my thing. It never would have been my thing. But I do find the story very compelling on many levels. And if you go on YouTube, you will find many videos made by disgruntled former consultants. Those videos existed way before this docuseries came into existence. Of course, you’ll also find some snarky videos that rebut the negative press. LuLaRoe is still in business, despite the lawsuits and bad news that is rapidly spreading about the company. I guess it’s still pretty controversial.

If your interest is piqued about “LuLaRich” and you have Amazon Prime, I would recommend watching the series. I found it entertaining and interesting, and once again, was thanking God MLMs have never been anything that interested me!

Oh… and before I forget. I am glad I watched the series if only so I could learn about Deanne Stidham’s maiden name, “Startup”, and the wacko sexist book her parents wrote. Check out this quote from a 1972 article that appeared in the New York Times about the book:

“Stand before a mirror in the privacy of your room and say to yourself, ‘I am just a helpless woman at the mercy of you big, strong men.’ . . . Stand before the mirror and say to yourself, ‘I expect you to pamper and humor me.’ With this thought in mind, try a pretty pout, stick out your lower lip as much as to say, ‘I thought you liked me.’ Or stamp your feet daintily, saucily, and shake your curls as much as to say, ‘I am furious, but what can a little girl like me do with a big, strong man like you?’ After perfecting this before the mirror, practice this exercise upon practice this exercise upon man you meet.” 

I might want to read that book just so I could write an outraged opinion about it. Looks like it’s not widely available anymore, though… and for very good reason! The book is called The Secret Power of Femininity, and it was written by Maurine and Elbert Startup. Here’s one more beaut that was quoted in the article:

“You must drop every suggestion in speech, apparel and manner that you are able to kill your own snakes or to take care of your own affairs or to spurn the guidance and care of man.”

Eew… and:

“The air of being able to kill their own snakes is just what destroys the charm of so many school teachers and competent business, career and professional women.”

Evidently, the elder Stidmans used to charge young women $300 a pop to take part in their “Femininity Forums”, which consisted of twelve 3 hour sessions in Los Angeles, designed to teach them how to be “feminine” and attract big, strong, men. There, they learned:

“Shaking hands is an art for the feminine woman. She will begin eagerly and confidingly, then suddenly seem to realize it is a man’s hand she is holding, and begin shyly drawing her own hand away.”

“Nothing can be better designed to remind the man immediately of the contrast of her feminine shyness with his manly thoughtlessness and indifference. It cries out loudly to him, ‘Watch your step; here is a dainty and tender woman.’”

“Another device is to be come so interested in what you are saying, or in what is happening, that you put your arm, ever so lightly, upon the man’s coat sleeve, and then, when you see that he has noticed it, to draw your hand away with an air of confusion and self‐conscious modesty. This serves to bring out the confiding trustfulness of your nature and then to emphasize your timorousness.”

Somehow, I doubt I would be able to pull off this technique very convincingly. It makes me cringe… especially considering these courses were being taught when I was a baby. Even in 1972, this is pretty shockingly sexist and, frankly, wrong-headed. What a shame.

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Biden, disasters, Military, politicians, politics

A comparison of presidential condolences…

This morning, I read an article in the Washington Post about the father of one of the Marines who died last week in Afghanistan. The father, whose name is Mark Schmitz, was at Dover Air Force Base, waiting for his son’s remains to be repatriated. Schmitz’s son, Jared, was 20 years old when he perished. Schmitz was reportedly angry, and initially didn’t want to speak to Joe Biden. He didn’t vote for Biden, and he blames the president for the fact that his son died.

But then Mr. Schmitz changed his mind, and he and his ex wife did speak to President Biden, just days after losing Jared to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Schmitz said he “glared” hard at the president, so Biden paid more attention to Schmitz’s ex, speaking of his son, Beau, who died in 2015. I suspect that Biden might have thought that reminding the grieving family members that he’s lost a child, too, was his clumsy attempt at empathy.

Naturally, Mr. Schmitz didn’t want to talk about Beau Biden. He wanted to talk about Jared, who died much too young. And Schmitz is pissed off at Biden because his son is gone. He said to Mr. Biden, “Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12… And take some time to learn their stories. ”

According to Schmitz, Biden’s response was “I do know their stories.”

Schmitz did offer “kudos” to Biden for one thing. Biden pulled out a card that he carries in his breast pocket that shows the number of Americans who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the end of the card, Biden had written “Plus 13.” Schmitz was apparently glad to see that Biden wasn’t totally full of it, even if his comments seemed “scripted and shallow”. Schmitz also recognized that the meeting must have been very hard for Joe Biden. Schmitz said:

“It had to be one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do. You make some calls, here’s the aftereffect. It’s got to be difficult. I’m not saying it was easy at all. But you can’t run up and hug someone as if you had nothing to do with it. It’s not going to work that way when you’re commander in chief.”

Other people were a lot angrier at Biden. One person said she hoped he burned in Hell. Roice McCollum, the sister of Ryan McCollum, one of the fallen, said this to the Washington Post:

“He cannot possibly understand… My dad and I did not want to speak to him. You cannot kneel on our flag and pretend you care about our troops. You can’t f— up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry. This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands. The thousands of Afghans who will suffer and be tortured is a direct result of his incompetence.”

As I read this account of the “tough” meeting Biden had with the families of the mostly very young American servicemembers who died in Afghanistan, I couldn’t help but remember an incident from October 2017 involving Donald Trump. On October 4, 2017, there was a deadly ambush in Niger, and two weeks after the event, Donald Trump made phone calls to family members of the fallen Soldiers. One of the calls he made was to Myeshia Johnson, widow of La David Johnson. La David Johnson was one of four Army Soldiers who had died in the ambush.

Prior to making the phone call, Trump was advised by former Marine General John Kelly, who lost his own son in Afghanistan when the 29 year old stepped on a land mine. Kelly told Trump a story about how his best friend, Joe Dunford, was Kelly’s casualty officer, and said something along the lines of this:

Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. 

In my 2017 blog post about Trump’s interaction with La David Johnson’s family, I wrote:

It seems to me that if you are two guys in the military, brothers in arms, as it were, it would make sense to say something like what General Kelly’s friend and casualty officer said. People who serve in the military understand that there is risk when a war is going on. They can talk to each other about the business of war, because they have a concept of it. They understand the job; they’ve been through the training and indoctrination; and saying something like “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do…” makes sense. However, I don’t think the same thing is true for family members of the fallen.

In the course of Trump’s phone call intended to express condolences to Myeshia Johnson, he forgot La David Johnson’s name. He told Mrs. Johnson, who was pregnant at the time, that her husband “knew what he signed up for… but it hurts anyway.” And then Trump said, “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do…” If memory serves, Trump also repeatedly referred to La David Johnson as “your guy” to his grieving wife.

I don’t know why La David Johnson joined the Army, and I certainly don’t know what his wife knew about her husband’s motives for serving. Maybe he wanted to be a Soldier because of a sense of duty, or maybe he just wanted the money and benefits. Maybe it was a combination of factors that influenced him to join. But I am willing to bet that Johnson would have preferred to have been with his wife and children to being in Niger. Even if Johnson actually did prefer to be working in Niger, as a spouse, I sure wouldn’t want to hear that my husband preferred a war zone to being at home with me. I’ll bet Mrs. Johnson didn’t want to hear that, either.

When Mrs. Johnson later complained about how tone deaf and insensitive Trump’s phone call was, Trump didn’t apologize. Instead, he tweeted “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”

Meanwhile, Myeshia Johnson said that Trump’s phone call had made her feel worse. She said, “… I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said he couldn’t remember my husband’s name.”

As people condemned Trump’s graceless handling of the Niger ambush, Trump took the opportunity to throw shade at past presidents. He said, “If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls – a lot of them didn’t make calls.”

Now… I’m not saying that the families of the fallen who met with Joe Biden are wrong to be angry. I’m sure that a lot of them didn’t vote for Mr. Biden, and they think Donald Trump would have handled leaving Afghanistan better. They see Biden as “weak”. He has a very different personality than Trump has. He doesn’t come across with as much charisma, force, or bluster. They perceive Biden’s less flashy personality as less effective, and they blame Biden for “fucking up” the exit from Afghanistan as he ended America’s longest war.

Personally, I am shocked that only 13 Americans have been lost, so far, in the departure from Afghanistan. I think if Trump had been in charge, the fallout would have been much worse. Moreover, I am impressed by the number of people who were successfully evacuated from Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, over 124,000 people have left Afghanistan alive. Yes, we did lose 13 Americans last week, and that’s a terrible thing. And there’s nothing anyone can say or do to make the families of those who died feel better. But, I do think Mr. Biden’s attempt at offering condolences was much better than Trump’s attempts to comfort the bereaved.

Some people seem to have forgotten that Donald Trump has historically had no empathy for other people’s pain and suffering. I remember what he said about the late John McCain, who was captured and tortured in Vietnam. Donald Trump, who never put on a uniform because of his “bone spurs”, called John McCain a “fucking loser”. Trump also said of McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

Trump also memorably referred to members of the military as “losers and suckers”, having canceled a trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018. At the time, Trump falsely claimed rainy conditions had made it impossible for the helicopter to fly, and the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. The truth is that Trump was worried about his hair getting mussed in the rain, and he didn’t think honoring the American war dead was important enough to risk messing up his hair. According to an article written by Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic:

In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

As I read about people who are angry at President Biden because 13 Americans died at an airport suicide attack in Kabul, then they criticize Biden’s attempts to express condolences and apologize, I can’t help but wonder how they would have reacted to Trump in the same situation. People died during the Trump administration, too. I wonder if Trump would have met personally with those family members, having remembered each and every servicemember’s name and story. I wonder if he would have pulled out a card with the names of the fallen written down. I also wonder if there would have been more dead servicemembers sent home.

The United States has been engaged with Afghanistan for 20 years. A lot of money, time, and talent has been wasted on a country whose people are still living in a different era. It was time for the conflict to end. I don’t think there was a way to win in this situation. It was bound to be messy.

Many people, safe at home, are blaming Biden. Some are also blaming military leaders, claiming that they should have recognized the threats and addressed them. I guess it’s only natural to try to second guess what people do and the decisions they make in a war zone. I just wonder if people ever stop and think about it longer than a minute.

My husband spent thirty years in the Army. He never went to Afghanistan, but he did go to Iraq. Bill never talks about what should have been done in Afghanistan, in spite of his experience. He can’t speak to what should have been done, because he wasn’t there. Most of the people who are criticizing the president and the military don’t have a concept of what was going on in Afghanistan, beyond what was in the news.

I get that the families of the fallen are grief stricken. I understand that many of them preferred Trump to Biden, and this is a great opportunity for them to cement their hatred of Biden. But, as the wife and daughter of military veterans, I can’t help but notice the difference between Biden’s style of presidential condolences and Trump’s. I think I would much prefer Biden’s clumsy attempts to comfort– talking about his son, Beau, and compulsively looking at his dead son Beau’s watch– to Trump’s tone deaf attempts– forgetting the names of the fallen, bickering with widows on Twitter, and falsely claiming that he cares more than other presidents did in similar circumstances.

In my view, Donald Trump would not have done any of this better. It probably would have been an even bigger fiasco. More people would have died, and fewer would have been evacuated. And when it came time to comfort the grieving, history shows that Trump would have probably really fucked things up even more.

I have never served in the military myself, but I have been surrounded by veterans my whole life. One thing I’ve learned is that everyone who serves knows that there’s a chance they could be killed. That’s something that comes with the territory of military service. But, if you think about it, there’s a risk in everything we do. Hell, nowadays, just breathing can get you killed.

I’m glad that the people who met with Joe Biden had the chance to look him in the eye, speak to him, accept hugs from him, or even tell him they hope he rots in Hell. Under Trump’s watch, they would have probably just gotten a phone call at the very most, with glib cliches about “knowing what they were getting into” and “dying doing exactly what they wanted to do…” coupled with forgotten names, awkward stammering, and no chance to respond.

Joe Biden didn’t kill those people who died in Afghanistan last week. They were killed by a terrorist. The young man who strapped 25 pounds to explosives to himself, went to the gate, and blew himself up for his god is the one who did the killing and maiming. If anyone should be blamed for those senseless deaths, it’s that guy, and people like him. The last military plane left Afghanistan this morning. Thank God for that. I hope we don’t ever go back. I congratulate Joe Biden for finally ending our 20 year war with Afghanistan… and for having the courage, humility, and decency to meet with the people who are grieving the tragic loss of their family members.

There’s a stark contrast in Biden’s sense of duty compared to Trump’s… Again, from my blog post from 2017, regarding La David Johnson’s death:

La David Johnson was laid to rest yesterday.  His devastated widow was there with the children and Sergeant Johnson’s other loved ones.  Mrs. Johnson kissed her husband’s casket goodbye as she clutched two folded American flags. 

Trump, by contrast, was playing golf, as usual… and, ever classy, he posted on social media as mourners were preparing for the funeral…

What a tragic disaster this man is.

Think about it.

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